The Lukang Longshan Temple may crumble, but its memory is forever protected.  One of the most revered Buddhist monasteries in Taiwan is digitally preserved using multiple technologies, drones included.

The 18th century Buddhist temple in Taiwan may be a a National Monument since 1983, but it continues to be at risk from the forces of both man and nature. In fact, the threat of destruction from these forces has never been higher, making world heritage sites like the Lukang Longshan Temple more endangered from terrorism, intentional destruction, rising sea levels, acid rain, excessive tourism and urban sprawl.

As if that what not enough of a problem, the Lukang Longshan Temple is especially vulnerable, as it sits atop a tectonically active region called the “Ring of Fire,” home of an estimated 90 percent of all the world’s earthquakes. That’s one good reason for two organizations dedicated to preserving world heritage sites, CyArk and Iron Mountain Incorporated, to dedicate time and money to register every detail of the monument in digital format.

In March of this year, a team from CyArk traveled to Taiwan to digitally scan and capture the Longshan Temple. Using 3-D scanning technology, the team captured both internal and external imaging scans of the Longshan Temple, and used drones to aerially capture data as well. That data was then rendered by CyArk’s technology team into 3-D imagery that allows the Longshan Temple to be viewed online by anyone in the world.

“Now, no matter what the future holds, we will have a record of this site and an ability to restore the temple,” said CyArk Field Manager, Ross Davison. “A researcher in the twenty-second century will now be able to virtually visit Lukang and conduct their research in the virtual environment—it will literally be like stepping back in time.”

Additionally, for the first time, CyArk has also integrated virtual reality (VR) technology capabilities so that the Longshan Temple can be “toured” as if you are really there. Using the free Sketchfab platform, visitors will have the opportunity to come face-to-face with the intricate ceiling of the Buddhist temple.

Drones help to save Buddhist temple in Taiwan“Most exciting of all, is that all these extraordinarily beautiful architectural features will be accessible to everyone. Thanks to the generous support of Iron Mountain this is the first time the Longshan Temple will be available to virtually tour through the website or a VR mobile device,” says Mike Evans, CEO of CyArk.

In an interview published at CyArk website, CyArk Field Manager, Ross Davison, comments on his experience in Taiwan, saying that “we were grateful to have a team fly a DJI drone over the site which we use for aerial photogrammetry, which provides context for the rest of the data.”

CyArk is a non-profit leading the field work of capturing the precious data. The work was supported onsite by the China University of Technology (CUTe). Iron Mountain, the global leader in storage and information management, is the sole corporate sponsor of the project through its Living Legacy Initiative, providing funding and in-kind data storage and protection services. Since 2012, Iron Mountain has supported CyArk’s mission to preserve world heritage sites in five years. To date, CyArk has digitally preserved more than 200 sites on all seven continents.

“Our support of CyArk and projects like the Lukang Longshan Temple are the embodiment of our philanthropic focus on preserving our shared cultural heritage,” said Ty Ondatje, senior vice president of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer for Iron Mountain. “Our customers trust us with their most precious assets. We take that responsibility very seriously. Our Living Legacy Initiative allows us to extend that trust to our communities where we live and work all over the world, ensuring that our shared heritage remains preserved and protected for generations to come.”